Achieving widespread coverage among those deemed vulnerable to flu is a priority for 2020 as health officials look to avoid a possible ‘double whammy’ of flu and Covid-19.
Free vaccines became available on 1 October to the over-65s, children aged from six months to 16, healthcare workers, pregnant women and those with underlying health conditions.
Associate medical director Dr Adrian Noon said: ‘Over 2,000 school children from eight primary schools have been vaccinated so far, which is a 10% increase on last year’s figures.
‘Since the start of this month, GPs and pharmacists have vaccinated 10,000 patients of all ages identified as being high risk.’
Dr Noon added that more than 1,000 health staff had been vaccinated, of which two-thirds were patient-facing. This was already a record number, he added.
At the launch of this year’s vaccination programme on 29 September, deputy medical officer of health Dr Ivan Muscat said he hoped that 2020 would see an increase in the 60% uptake figure recorded in recent years, and said he hoped 70% coverage would be achievable.
For the first time, those aged 50 to 64 will be eligible for free vaccination once the next phase of the programme is rolled out towards the end of November.
In total, 56,000 Islanders will be eligible for a free vaccine, with others outside the ‘target market’ having the option to pay for a vaccine from pharmacies.